So you fancy escaping your 1 bedroom flat in smog filled London (estimated value £400,000+) and going to live on island in Scotland? Kit houses in Scotland have come a long way. Here are 12 things you should remember from a man who has built some of the most stunning houses on Skye. All aboard for your rundown on Kit Houses in Scotland from Alasdair Stephen of Hebhomes
Kit Houses in Scotland
1) Your money goes much, much further out here but how much will I have to spend?
Building a house is never cheap – but there is never better value than building a new house. A Hebhomes house will typically cost £1,600m2 but the end product will be a beautifully designed, high-tech modern house taking advantage of the wonderful views that are almost everywhere in rural Scotland.
2) You need to get the plot (here’s how you do it)
Contact estate agents local to where you wish to build. Often they will have a website and will put you on their mailing list. Get to know the area. Speaking to local people will give you inside knowledge of what land may be available and at what price. Be brave. Identifying a plot and asking the landowner if they are willing to sell can pay off. The worst they can say is no. Check the Internet. A dedicated website such as Buildstore Plotsearch can help.
3) Talk to an architect at the start of the process
The first thing we will do at Hebhomes is make sure your budget meets your expectations. Once these are matched then we can lead you through what should be an exciting and inspiring process.
4) What timescales are there?
Allow between 6 months and a year from buying your site to cutting the first turf (although it can take longer). The build programme will depend on the contractor and the design but typically expect 8 months.
5) What about legal?
In the Highlands use a lawyer who is an expert in crofting law and also answers emails. A good lawyer will make sure all aspects of the site which could cause problems (sewerage arrangements, ground conditions, water and electricity connections) have been checked before missives are concluded and money exchanged. This is something Hebhomes undertakes for our clients.
6) How are the costs broken down?
You will have costs associated with buying the site, including legal fees. You will have other professional costs from the quantity surveyor and engineer. The main cost, the contract cost of the house, will be paid every four weeks in arrears to the main contractor using a fixed price contract under the administration of the architect. The kit house is paid in stages, most of which is when the project is on site.
7) I want somewhere more remote, where could you recommend?
For land at a very reasonable price I would recommend South Uist in the Outer Hebrides. An airport in Benbecula means that it can be reached quickly if required.
8) I like being remote, but I can’t live without broadband. What is it like?
There is broadband in most placed – it’s just very slow. You may find catching up on Escape to the Country on iPlayer a bit of struggle.
9) Will I be able to use my mobile phone?
This depends on your provider. It is patchy in the more mountainous areas.
10) What exactly is a kit house? Is it like the German ones I’ve seen on Grand Designs?
Kit houses come in many gradations and prices. Hebhomes provides Structurally Insulated Panels (SIP) kits which perform exceptionally well with modern renewable heating systems. Typically we will provide to wind and weather-tight with all external doors and windows, internal partitions as well as internal and external membranes fitted. We can also offer a full turn-key service.
11) Does everyone speak Gaelic on Skye? Is it hard to learn? Do I have to?
About 40% of people on Skye speak Gaelic. It is hard to learn but very rewarding. It is not compulsory although in places like Sleat it is expected that children are sent to the Gaelic school.
12) Can you tell us a bit about life on Skye – what’s the beer like, is there much fresh food, are there any stereotypes you’d like to demolish?
The pubs in Skye are brilliant and the locals very friendly. The food used to be generally poor but is now generally exceptional with two Michelin star restaurants on the island. The midges are the worst in the world. This is completely true.
Alasdair Stephen is a director of Hebhomes along with his twin Neil. The brother set up Dualchas Architects in 1996 before setting up the kit house company Hebhomes in 2004. Alasdair studied at Strathclyde University and also attended the Gaelic college An Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.
More information regarding Kit Houses in Scotland can be found here
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